tv CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello CNN December 17, 2014 6:00am-7:01am PST
things, it's really is process because it's going to be a big change. but it shows a lot of behind the scene diplomacy that we've seen now for months and years. and all along we've heard that the major impedmemedment to geta relationship more normal to u.s. and cuba has been alan gross. cuba said, even more importantly, return of these three intelligence agents that he sent to the united states. i covered their trial in miami almost 15 years ago and it was very controversial in miami. you can expect in miami there might be protests today because these are people that the cuban american community in miami saw as traitors. you have to give something to get something and it seems that president obama has decided to stake out as one of his major policy initiatives normalizing the relationship with cuba. and certainly the steps that are
announced today are going to go a long way, much further than perhaps any administration in living memory to try and reach a normal and racial, sane policy with cuba. >> thank so much for the reporting. cnn is the only american network in cuba on the ground at this morning. sounds like the flood gates are about to open personally and financially. >> it's going to be interesting to get the reporting on the ground. there are generations of cuban americans who believe that they had their lives and what matter to them most stripped by that administration that is fill in place. there's a lot of coverage for us to do on this major breaking news. let's get you to the newsroom with carol costella for more. >> thanks so much. "newsro "newsroom" starts now. i'm carol costello. we have breaking news this morning. what may be the biggest shift in
cuban relations in decades appears to be unfolding this morning. alan gross, an american contractor held prisoner in cuba for the last five years is now on his way home on a plane heading back to the united states from havana. gross was arrested back in 2009 after he was caught smuggling satellite equipment into cuba. it with us part of a u.s. aid plan to increase internet access in a severely restricted company. the release of three of the so-called cuban five, being held on espionage charges in the united states. let's heard to elise laf vick, she's in washington with more. tell us more. >> well, carol, the cubans released alan gross. as you know, his health was really failing. in addition to this, in this landmark deal, the u.s. and cuba swapping spies. the u.s. released those three
cuban intelligent agents in jail for more than 15 years. cuban releasing an u.s. intelligence source who has been in jail in cuba for more than 30 years np u.s. not releasing those names for security purposes. officials tell me with gross's release, president obama set to announce the most sweeping overall in u.s. policy against cuba since the embargo was impos imposed. a major relaxing of travel. virtually anyone can go to cuba with a license to travel. let's take a listen to a little bit more about that deal. >> he's shaking hands with castro. >> a historic handshake between president obama and cuban leader raul castro at nelson mandela's funeral. today, american government contractor alan gross finally coming home, just two weeks
after this desperate plea from his wife on the ailing gross' fifth year in prison >> please, mr. president, don't leave alan to die in cuba. >> last week president obama hinted a deal may be in the weeks in an interview with univision. >> we've been in conversations with how we can get alan gross home for quite some time. we have been working through a whole variety of channels. >> gross was arrested in 2009 for trying to deliver cell phones and other communications equipment to the communist island. he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in jail for trying to subvert the cuban government. two years ago he told cnn's wolf blitzer he was a hostage, not a convict. >> do you have any idea what the cuban government would want in exchange for releasing you? >> yeah. i think they want something that's completely unrealistic. they think they want -- i'm not really a prisoner. i'm a hostage. they took me with the idea of
trading me. >> the landmark deal involves the release of three cubans convicted in the u.s. of spying, part of the so-call cuban five. for more than five decades the u.s. has observed a trade ' embargo on cuba. in 2011 president obama relaxed some travel restrictions and last year he raised eyebrows telling a fun raiser in miami that the embargo doesn't make sense saying, quote, we have to be creative and we have to be thoughtful and we have to continue to update our policies. >> and carol in addition to relaxing those travel restrictions, president obama set to announce resumption of bank between the u.s. and cuban banks, increases in remittences, also announcing expanded commercial export and sales of goods and services to cuba, in
addition a whole lot of diplomatic initiatives, including president obama saying he is going to move to restore diplomatic tie to cuba and see about taking cuba off the state sponsor of terrorism list. this is not a reward to the castro regimes. there have been modest reforms on the island and they want to encourage that. nay realize this is a recognition, the embargo not working. if the u.s. wants to change in cuban, it needs to engage more with the cuban people. and i might add, as part of this deal, cuba has agreed to release 53 political prisoners from a list provided by the u.s., allow more internet access to people in cuba and allow the international red cross and united nations to come back for the first time in years. i understand the vatican has been working on this deal with both parties and is the guarantor of this process. >> it's just astounding news.
i want to take our viewer to cuba now because cnn is the only u.s. network in cuba. by all accounts mr. gross was in bad shape. he threatened to kill himself if he wasn't freed soon. he already said good-bye to his wife and daughter. he can barely walk and has lost five teeth and sight in his eye. how is he doing? i know he's on the plane back to the united states, but do you know? >> reporter: he must be the happiest man alive because he really thought he was going to die in cuban prison. you can go on adding on to that list of things he missed because of his ill-fated a venn chur here. he wasn't able to say good-bye to his moth when she passed awap. that's going to be one of the first things that he does when he rushs to the united states is go to his mother's graf site and be able to do what he wasn't able to do. he'll be able to hug husband
children again. he'll be able to tell his wife that he's not going to die in a cuban prison which is he he told he her when he saw her last in july. he was really fading away. he was sent here by the united states as part of u.s. programs to essentially instill democracy in cuba. there was a failure and alan gross was caught almost immediately. he didn't speak spanish. and they used him as a bargaining chip to get these other intelligence agents back which is really what the cuban government wanted more than anything. i've been told from sources over the year that if fidel castro had to choose from lifting the embargo and getting these three men back, he wanted his men back. he's a military man and apparently no man is left behind. it's very interesting that why there is this loosening, of
course the cuban embargo will remain in place. president obama cannot lift that. but he's doing just short of that which is allowing more american to travel here, more american to send money here. and cubans are just waking up and learning this news. it hasn't been reported yet in the cuban press. this will be very welcomed news for the people who felt a cut off from their neighbor, the united states. >> president obama will. making a statement noon eastern time. we'll carry that live on cnn. patrick, stand by. i want to bring in fareed zakaria. this is mind blowing to nem. the embargo was put into place in 1960 for the totality of my life and now suddenly the united states is reaching out to cuba. i know there's some sort of prisoner swap and all of that. bru underneath it all it's bigger than that, isn't it? >> it's much bigger than that. the fundamental theory that the obama administration is going for is that the embargo has not
worked. the attempt to isolate cuba since 1959, 1906 -- 1960. fidel castro is the longest serving head of state in the world. basically it's been the longest serving head of state of the world. and what that tells you is that the embargo has not worked in its objective. the bet now the that the 0 bam that administration is making is that a different strategy will work. it will erode the control that the cuban regime has over its country. if yes think of all of those countries, china being the best example which was so closed and isolated, the more they had contact with the world, the more they opened themselves up. the more society emerged and the state became less powerful. that's the strategy here.
this is the biggest political hot button in the united states. this is a tough one to go at and the fact that the administration is doing it shows that the president is determined to remain relevant. and in foreign policy the president has more unilateral authority than in any other area. it's interesting that he's staking his bet on cuba and iran, the two countries that are probably the two large countries that have not yet been integrated into the world. >> i just got a message in my ear th raul castro is going to make a statement at 12:00 eastern, at the exact same time that president obama is going to make his announcement. >> the regime has not reformed much. people have been expecting that as castro faded you would see more openness and experiment
with markets. there has been a little. but basically the regime is very tight, very tough and frankly a very bad regime. it's still very brutal. but the theory is that this could be a way to open things up. >> well, interestingly, i think a record number of americans have traveled to cuba even though you need special permission to go. so relations between cuba and the united states have been getting warmer in that sense, right, because americans are more septembering of cuba. i's not quite so politically risky for the obama administration to reach out to cuba today as it might have been ten or 12 years ago. >> absolutely right. the reason is basically it's the new generation of miami cubans. most of the people going to cuba are miami cubans or cuban americans of some form. the older generation still retain this idea that they're going to go back to a non-castro cuba. they're going to reclaim their
land. the younger generation are americans. they don't know fantasies or nostalgia. they just want to go see cuba, the country of their origin. they want to understand what it's like. they don't have the phobias of the embargo happens to be in place and nobody can have anyrr >> let's face it, fidel castro is an old man, a sick man. nobody thinks of him anymore. >> it was a cold war, the idea of giving in to a soviet ally, all of that is gone. finally in a sense we're catching up with what the reality is, which is cuba is one more corrupt and it's probably true that tourism and travel will e proed the power much more than isolating it. the isolation helps the regime stay in power.
>> i'm going to take our viewer to check in with michelle kosinski. >> reporter: the white house has basically confirmed that this is happening, that gross is now on a government plane headed back to the u.s. and the president was asked about this subject just days ago. in fact there was an interview done with spanish language television on test 9th. i want to read you a part of it. he was asked about alan gross's situation, what is the u.s. government doing to secure his release. and that is something that the white house has asked about quite often. and the president said there were efforts being made, resources being used to try to get him back home. and the president said we've been working through a whole variety of channels. we continue to be concerned about him. we think that he shouldn't have been held in the first place. and the president went on to say with respect to cuba, i've been clear that policies that we have in making remittences easy are
for cuban families have been helpful to people inside of c a cuba. but he said the cuban government still needs to make significant changes. beyond that i don't have have any announcement. that was only days ago. we expect the president to give a little more detail on how this came about. we know that it will be -- or it was a swap in the negotiations. he'll justify it. he'll make a case for why this happened now and how it happened. surely if he takes questions he'll be asked about u.s. cuba relations and what this means going forward. because as you were just talking about, this has been a topic of sore debate, especially in miami among that long cuban community for many, many years. and i lived there for ten years. and you still get that fiery viement about not giving in to the castro regime. even today, even though it might not be as prevalent among the
young generation, the feeling is still there. they still have family there. some people still have relatives who are political prisoners or mistreated by the government. so that sense, it's still a very delicate subject among many families down there. so we'll be curious to see what their reactions are once we know the full details of how this cam to be. >> all right. stand by. i want to go to fareed and ask you a little bit about, i guess, is it a prisoner swap because you know, some members of the cuban five are going to be released back to cuba and they'll probably return home as heroes in exchange for alan gross. is that the right way to characterize it? >> it is a prisoner swap. it was about an obstacle that did not allow them to do the new policy that they had been hoping to do. alan gross had become a symbol of the cuban regime's
thuggishness. as you know, it had become a great cause. until that was solved, this was the obstacle they had to get past. they had been trying very hard. >> and the kaiwan five, they were spying for cuba on the united states, right? that's what we're talking about. >> cuban intelligence operatives who were doing stuff in miami, exactly. >> and they served time in u.s. prisons, right? >> exactly. >> some more than 15 years and now three of them will go back. >> exactly. and the cubans have a very, very -- they're very loyal to these kinds of intelligence operatives. the regime is a military dictatorship and they view these things in those terms, no man left behind. yeah, you're quite right. at some level this is a prisoner swap. >> ana navarro is on the phone. hi, are you there? >> hi. >> so we were talking about the political implications of president obama agreeing to this for the release of alan gross.
there are republicans who will object to this, right? >> and also some democrats, carol. i just got off the phone with bob menendez who is also the chairman of the foreign relations committee in the u.s. senate. none of the cuban americans on the u.s. congress -- none of the congressmen, none of the democrat or republicans in the senate or congress had any idea or any forewarning from the white house that they were in the midst of this. and you know, there's going to be republicans in charge that's going to be funding issues. i think you're going to hear a very, a very angry bob menendez. i think people are going to be celebrating and happy about the release of alan gross but this sets a very dangerous precedent. understand what this means. if you take an american hostage somewhere around the world, if you imprison an american, we'll engage in a prisoner swap that is going to be of great concern not only to the cuban americans
but also for others who don't like that. >> and it's interesting you say that because, you know, i was asking fareed about how cuba characterizes alan gross. they obviously consider him a spy, right? >> they call him a spy. >> well that's ridiculous. let's just remember what the guy was going in cuba. alan gross is a youish man who was in cuba helping the small jewish community that still remains in cuba get internet access. he was not trying to topple the government. he was trying to get his community in cuba internet access. >> there's a reason that the cuban government doesn't want its citizens to have internet access, right? >> -- freedom of the press, freedom of assembly and for human rights. >> fareed? >> ana is right. this is a thuggish regime. but in terms of the prisoner
exchange, which is how you characterized it, which i think is exactly right, it's a problem that every country faces. and all i can say is that the toughest regime in the world on these issues is the israeli government. and they routinely do prisoner exchanges. not doing it becomes an obstacle and the feeling is, let's move on. so you could say, yes, the obama administration did something wrong. but i pound out netanyahu have been prisoner exchanges that are far more lopsided than prum just did. >> the cuban government tried to set imhup to take a fall, didn't it? >> i'm sorry, can you say that again? >> didn't the cuban government try to set him up to take a fall? >> the cuban government tried to set him up, i think, to make him
the paub in this bigger political game. >> yeah. i'm sorry. i put you on the spot with that question. i'm going to research that and tell our viewers exactly what i mean when i have it straight in my mind. i apologize for that. so going back to lifting some 0 these sanctions that the president might need congressional approval for, do you think that most members of congress will go for it? >> i think he's going to encounter a huge problem because i think that you're going to see a united front from the cuban americans in the senate, like marco rubio and bob ma then dez. i don't think this it's a coincidence this happened the day after the senate went into ajourn
adjournme adjournment. but the next chair of the western hemisphere committee where any of the changes would have to start is going to be senator marco rubio. i can tell you that he has been steadfast on his opposition to lifting any sanctions and there is enormous unity amongst the cuban americans in congress, whether democrat or republican, whether south florida, new jersey or even texas in the case of ted cruz in standing firm against any unilateral lifting of sanctions on cuba while they still violate human rights the way they do. >> and something that may sway congress, some lawmakers at least, is that other countries have reached out to cuba and are actively trading with them, they've improved relations. and maybe the united states is behind the eight ball. >> cuba is not as isolated as a country like iran. only the u.s. has this involvement and a few other countries. many european countries have
active trade with cuba. in a sense we're losing an opportunity to have influence and contact in cuba. it is american contact commerce that is more likely than anything to have an impact because we always do bring with it concerns about human rights. we press these countries. we don't have any relations with them right now so it's very difficult. so as i say, there is an alternate strategy and theory here, more contact and more commerce will have the effect of softening the regime, 'em pempog the society. there's a limit of how much you can do with the sanctions. i doubt that president obama will ask congress to lift the embargo. i think he knows that ana is exact lit right. that's not going to happen . but the point you're making, their ear symbolic. now other countries might step up and get more engaged with
cuba because they'll see there's no dang of an american backlash. they're not going to get in trouble with american banks if they trade with cuba. and they might integrate cuba more and more in the world. >> i want to go to little havana and check in. how are they reacting this morning, elena? >> reporter: you know, i'm at the cafe which is a well known spot here in miami in terms of the cuban community. they gather here every time there's something that happens in terms of the u.s. and cuba relations. we've been talking to people here for about the last half-hour, ever since the news broke. and most people have not heard yet about the announcement. i spoke to two gentlemen who arrived in miami in 1961 from cuba. they've been here since then. they have not returned to the
island. and initially when i told them alan gross had been released, they were happy and pleased. but then when i mentioned that it was in exchange for three of the cuban five, their tone changed a bit. they were concerned that there was a spy swap in exchange for alan gross's release. you know, we also talked about possibly easing relations, diplomatic relations between cuba and the united states. and that was something that really struck a cord. you've got to remember. there's a long standing history among the cuban community when it comes to the cuban government. these gentlemen i talked to told me that they left the -- they left cuba in 1961 and they haven't returned because of the situation there, because of the castro government. and many of the people who are here in miami left the island after very serious reasons, we're talking about families that were torn apart.
that is going to probably be at the heart of the reaction here to the announcement. there's a lot of anger in this community and there's also going to be a lot of disappointment on many of the cuban exiles here who probably aren't going to be happy to hear about the easing of relations here. >> thanks very much. i have to get to a break. back with much more on this breaks news about cuba and the release of alan gross. i've had moderate to severe plaque psoriasis most my life. but that hasn't stopped me from modeling. my doctor told me about stelara®. it helps keep my skin clearer. with only 4 doses a year after 2 starter doses... ... stelara® helps me be in season. stelara® may lower your ability to fight infections and increase your risk of infections. some serious infections require hospitalization. before starting stelara®... ...your doctor should test for tuberculosis. stelara® may increase your risk of cancer. always tell your doctor if you have any sign of infection, have had cancer, or if you develop any new skin growths.
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a world full of fear. that's the latest threat from the hackers who attacked sony over the tral film "the interview." they're vowing to turn that anger to the movie growers. one new york city theater taking that threat seriously by canceling the premier. a source close to the situation say the company will not object if theaters decide not to show it and the box office may not be the only place that sony take as
fit. two former employees have filed a class action lawsuit against the company after the hacker got information about social security numbers. an epic nightmare much better suited to a cinematic treater than real liech. their most sensitive data has been raeked to the public and may be in the hands of criminals. one of the films stars seth rogen said he expected some bash lash but felt like the film should reflect what life was like under the kim jong-un regime >> we did not think they would love the concept of the movie. but more than anything, we wanted to make a movie that had one foot in reality. that's something that we as filmmakers like sfl did you think about changing his name at all. like calling him phil jung-un.
>> we did. >> pamela brown has more from washington. good morning. >> good morning to you. it appears that the dominos continue to fall. sony is trying to weather this storm. in fact the company is saying that it's not going to pull the movie. it is leaving that decision up to the theaters. and already a major chain, cinema mark has decided to pull the movie and the stars seth rogen and james franko have canceled all public appearances this week. >> kim jong-un wants to do an interview -- >> he's a fan. >> amid threats to call off the release, sony says it currently has no plans to pull its upcoming movie "the interview." but now developing a person close to the situation says sony would not object if theaters decided to pull it from their box office. carmike cinemas, the first movie
chain to pull it from their more than 270 theaters across more than 40 states. landmark theaters also bailing, canceling thursday eesz premier in new york. even the films stars dropping out of media appearances this week. this fear prompted by a new threatening message purport edly from the sony hackers, the fbi investigating their promise of a bitter fate to anyone who sees the controversial comedy. the message says, soon all the world will see what an awful movie sony pictures entertainment has made. the world will be full of fear. remember the 11th of september 2001. >> if you go see the somehow skri, be careful. they're threatening the families of sony employees. this has taken hacking to a level that we've never seen before. >> this week a raeked scene from the film was posted showing the gruesome assassination of the north korea leader, something
the country condemns as a an act of war. u.s. law enforcement officials tell cnn that the strong suspicions is that the country is the instigator of the attack and possibly outsourced it to a group elsewhere. the fbi is scrubbing sony's computer system trying to gather enough evidence to be able to definitively point the finger at the hacking culprit. >> sit a complex nuance investigation. the more sophisticated hackers have gone through multiple infrastructure to get to where they've gotten to. so it's not something that sony is going to solve in a day or a week or a month. >> and now hollywood studios are breaking their silence on the cyber attack. the motion picture association of america released a statement and it says, sony pictures is not just a valued member of our association, a r but they are friends and colleagues and we feel for them. carol? >> all right. pamela brown reporting live from washington. thank you.
in los angeles officials are urging the public to remain calm in light of the hacker es warnings. >> we don't have any credible threat specifically of any violence or anything. i would encourage people to continue enjoying their lives. and we are participating closely with the federal agencies in coordinating all of that and to ensure that we can continue on and we'll leave it at that. >> that sentiment is being echoed by some hollywood ar a-listers. one saying people will now want to see it to know why they're so afraid of it. so their plan to suppress it will backfire. i'm not going to let a terror attack shet down freedom of speech. let's talk about this. on t welcome to you both. >> good morning.
>> so tom, are movie growers in danger? >> i really don't think so. i think that the company of sony obviously has been hacked and damaged and data has been lost and reputation has been shot. but to put a threat like that out with the thousands of movie theaters that we have in this country, and owl of the different ways of distributing the movie even online that can't be stopped, i don't see the actual bombing of theaters as a credible threat to be honest. but i think what they're accomplishing here in the long run is they're going to intimidate every movie maker and tv producer and news media operator in the rest of the world, don't say bad things about our dear leader and i think that's the motive here. and other companies need to watch out. cnn is showing these little clips about every 340 minutes of the movie. what if they turn to cnn next, start destroying data, saying don't say bad things about our
leader or you know, we consider it an act of terrorism, an act of war and we're going to come back at you. >> i think cnn would say too bad. >> maybe. >> sony is not pulling the picture. individual movie theaters are pulling the picture. but by doing that sb isn't that giving the hackers more power than they have? >> i think they have tremendous power. that is a series of felonies that they've committed. now when you push the terrorism button and get the whole public afraid that there might be a bombing, that's another set of you know violating the terrorists statute. so yeah, there's plenty of issues to deal with for this company. but again, you know, we can say that nobody should be afraid of terrorists, but just in the movie entry alone, will another
theater think twice before they two deuce something else that's this critical or graphic against that ra jeek? i'm not sure what will happen next. >> andrew, let's go down that road because there are two sides to every story and i like to explore all sides of an issue. so was sony responsible for depicting the assassination of a city world leader in a movie? >> well, i mean, look, it's clearly in a comedic context. it's clearly satirical. that said, the evidence is sony knew full well there were risks in doing what it did here. >> in a "the new york times" article there was an interview with seth rogen and the "the new york times" asked seth rogen, was there any talk of not depicting kim jong-un for being assassinated. and there was talk and seth rogen sed nope, i'm going to do the movie how i'm going to do the movie. so they were aware. >> they with are fully aware but
that doesn't necessarily mean they were irresponsible to do what they did. it's a tough call. but i do agree with tom. i do believe there could be a chilling effect that just about any hollywood production that is going to produce something on the order of kim jong-un is going to think twice and be more conservative than they would have been had this incident never happened. >> what will be the next step sony takes, do you think? now individual theaters are deciding whether to pull the movie. sony says, pull it if you must but we're not going to order any edict to do that. so what's next for sony through all of this? >> i think sony has an awful dilemma. right now they're sticking to their guns. but they know that even the sheer -- the mere prospect that there would a tragic incident exposes them and the theater owners to legal liability. on the other hand they don't want to be seen as caving in to what in all likelihood is an
empty threat. however there's been considerable damage done already. they've also spent a lot of money to market this movie. and as tom indicated, this movie could actually do very well because all of this negative publicity has been aroused by the controversy. so when you've got the likes of jaud ap tath going out on twitter saying it's the patriotic thing to do to go sigh this movie, you could see a snowball effect. even though you've got the actual chains like carmike pulling out. >> so tom i'll pose this question to you. some suggest that president obama should come out in support of sony. should he? >> you know, i'm not sure that he should get into this. you have the fbi, homeland security and other agencies aggressively pursuing this. if they can tie it back to being state sponsored by north korea
or a north korean ally, they'll say no and prosecute and go after it. i mean we indicted members of the chinese military not too long ago for hacking into u.s. companies systems. i don't think there's been a hesitation to announce it publicly if they can make the connection. but the digital bread crumbs if you will will go all around the world and through many different systems and networks and servers. it will be difficult to track that all the way back to being a state sponsored event. >> i have to leave it there. thanks to both of you. i appreciate it. back in a minute.
all right. back to our breaks news right now. alan gross has been released after five years in a cuban military hospital. gross was arrested back in 2009 after he was caught smuggling satellite equipment to cuba. it was part of an american plan to increase internet access. in exchange for gross's release, a prisoner swap. the american government has agreed to release three of the so-called cuban five, that's a group of cuban intelligence officials convicted. espionage charges. they were spies for cuban arrested here in the united states. served time in american prisons.
i'm going to get more from cnn political commentary ana navarro. she's in miami. i know this touches you personally because you've long fought for human rights in cuba. what's going through your mind this morning? >> reporter: i have mixed emotions, carol. i am very happy for the release of alan gross. it was a huge injustice for him to be there. he was in very bad health. his mother died while he was in prison. this is a man who's lost over 100 pounds. he's lost his teeth. it was really tire, dire conditions that he was under in a cuban jails for having done nothing. for having done something which was to take internet connectivity to the jewish community in cuba something that woulgd not be considered a crime in most country, most countries that believe in freedom around the world. but on the other hand i'm worried as an american about the precedent that we're setting of swapping american hostages. that's what alan gross was. he was being held hostage by the
cuban regime. swapping him for cuban spies. people involved with the shootdowns of american citizens over international waters during the brothers to reese cue es cu. i'm also angry that the white house didn't think it was appropriate to weigh in with, to talk to, to consult, to advice a single member of congress that represent the cuban american community, not democrats, not republicans, not bob menendez, the chair of foreign relation, no more ka rubarco rubio. i find that disptful and unilaterally this white house and frankly grate arrogance. >> tell us more about your work in cuba. are you able to travel freely to the country? >> reporter: me? >> no one is actually because you need special permission to go but many americans have visited cuba.
>> reporter: oh, ariel, listen. this idea that there's great travel destrixs on cuba right now is a myth and a fallacy. everywhere i go i hear people talking about how they're taking bike tours through cuba, salsa tours through cuba. i hear them talk about the mo hey tos on the beaches. that have already relaxed these travel sanctions a great deal. i will not go to cuba. it's personal choice of mine. ly not go give one penny of my money to a va jet stream that r violates human rights. one of the things i contributed to was passing a resolution condemning cuba for human rights violations. believe you me, there is no way that i would set one foot, put one foot on cuban soil while it is still under the oppression of
the castro regime. >> what about the idea of opening up relations between cuba and the united states will more likely topple the castro regime than anything else because it will introduce democracy through the internet "weekend expres for example, to the citizens of cuba. >> i think a lot of beam with good sengss have that intention. but my question is what is it that the u.s. brings that every other country doesn't. cuba does trade with practically every other country in the world, canada, italy, all sorts of countries in latin america and europe. so is it that an american is that much different from a canadian in terms of what they bring as far as person to person contact? we have not seen that kind of change from the cuban government despite the fact that many countries have normal relations.
most countries have normal relations with cuba. what we have seen is them attack the united states every time they can. we have seen the russian government go in there lately and try to explore setting up a base, a navy base. it is 90 miles from the coast of florida. and they have been a thorn in our side every time they can. anything other than an ally. >> i want to go to juan carlos. i want to get from you how members of the cuban community are reacting this morning. >> i think this is just, carol, sinking in. we still don't have the full breadth of the changes that are going to come. now we know that the president will make his -- he will make his announcement at noon. but from what we're hearing from sources this could be a very deep change in the way washington deals with havana and
vice rer so. and we'll see how it impacts the lives of those who travel to the island. there's been an important shift in recent years. the number of cubans traveling to the united states has surged. many of them and a lot of them are staying in the country. remember we have the wet foot/dry foot policy where cubans who touch u.s. soil and stay for a year become legal residents and have a very important support package. so all these things are part of this process. we'll see how deep the changes are. from what we're hearing this will be significant, this will be historic, this will not only transcend the relationship between cuba and the united states but will also probably change the way latin america deals and some countries deal with the united states. i guess you'll have a very dynamic reaction from cuban americans. there are different points of view. there is a line that believes that no concessions should be made to cuba and we'll be
hearing that. there's a line that believes things should change. so it will be interesting and it will be interesting to hear what a senator robert menendez, for example, has to say. he is is chairman of the foreign affairs committee. he's been working the issue of cuba during his whole career and whatever he has to say or senator marco rubio will be, i think, indicative of what we can expect from the cuban community in the united states. >> i'd like to talk just briefly about younger cubans because, you know, the united states imposed its embargoes on cuba in 1960. it's been a long time. fidel castro has been ill and out of sight for quite a long time and i would think that younger cuban americans have a much different impression of cuba and relations between the united states and cuba than older cuban americans do. >> there are different generations of cubans. those who came directly from the island, then you have several generations who have grown up in the united states as cuban americans. and many of them follow the
issue of the islands. others follow the issues of their home country, the united states. so they are interested in cuba but you have seen a shift in the way they perceive their relationship with cuba. if you go to miami now, the debate is much different than what it was ten or 20 years ago. i happened to work as a local news reporter in the city and just returning now you see that the debate is a lot different. so there is no solid one reaction from the cuban community. there are many perspectives, there are many angles. there are young cuban americans who have never been to the island who are passionate about the embargo and what they believe is the lack of freedom on the island but they're also a big group of cubans who arrived recently who believe that either change is necessary in the relationship or who are more focused on their daily lives in the u.s. than what is happening on the island. >> juan, thank you so much. i want to head to cuba now because cnn has the only correspondent from the united states in cuba. ana was talking about what that
shape mr. gross was in. he lost 100 pounds, he can barely walk. he lost five teeth. he lost sight in one eye. you just talked to his attorney. what did he say? >> well, his attorneys told me that he's to eni go joie a good scotch, she hasn't had a drink if five years, probably needs one. a good cigar, which is a habit he's picked up in cuban prison, and spend time with his family. he's not eager to do interviews or be in the media limelight. he's gone through one of the mortar horrific experiences, thinking he have going to die far from his country. and it must be something of a miracle for him. it was touch and go all along. and looking back at these major, major change which is usual officials tell me alan gross's release is only the first domino that's going to fall. other changes will happen. we're looking at potentially cuba being removed from the state -- the list of state -- countries that support state terrorism. we're looking at possibly for
the first time since the early 1960s a formal diplomatic relation being restored between the u.s. and cuba. is so there's a lot more to come down the pipeline. but at least for today the headline appears that alan gross will spend his first day outside. he's almost never let outside of the cuban prison cell where he was and the cuban five, the three remaining members of the cuban five, people who are expecting to spend long prison sentences in the united states, one member, the ringleader, was expecting to spend a life sentence in federal u.s. prison will return free men and receive a hero's welcome when they come back as 1 expected today. they'll probably be greeted by president raul castro. another interesting thing, we talk about cuba as a closed society, this news as of 10 minutes ago hadn't been reported in cuba. all cubans had been told that the president will make a very rare address, president raul castro, to the nation at noon to
talk about u.s./cuba relations, something he almost never does. but they haven't heard these details. they don't have easy access to the internet or cnn. so we're telling them and for many of them this is the biggest cuba/u.s. news that they've heard in their lifetime. so far they're tightly restricted. state media is not sharing them that news with them. at least not yet. >> a patrick on man, thanks so much. i have to take a break. we'll be back with more in the newsroom. is most my life. but that hasn't stopped me from modeling. my doctor told me about stelara®. it helps keep my skin clearer. with only 4 doses a year after 2 starter doses... ... stelara® helps me be in season. stelara® may lower your ability to fight infections and increase your risk of infections. some serious infections require hospitalization. before starting stelara®... ...your doctor should test for tuberculosis. stelara® may increase your risk of cancer. always tell your doctor if you have any sign of infection, have had cancer, or if you develop any new skin growths.
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good morning, i'm carols to tello. we start with what may be the biggest shift in cuban american relations in decades. alan gross an american contractor held prisoner in cuba for the last five years is on his way home right now. he's on a government plane headed back to the united states from havana, cuba. gross was arrested in cuba in 2009, accused of smuggling satellite equipment, part of an american plan to increase internet access in cuba. gross' health has been deteriorating in recent years and his family feared he may commit suicide if he wasn't released. in exchange for gross' freedom, the release of three of the so-called cuban five. they were held on spy charges and attempted murder charges in the united states. we are waiting to hear from
president obama. he is expected to speak about this at noon eastern and what all of this means for the u.s. relationship with cuba. let's start with global affairs correspondent in washington with more. good morning. >> well, carol, cuba has released alan gross as a humanitarian gesture, as you note. his health failing. the u.s. and naturally his family very concerned about him. but in addition to the u.s. and cuba are swapping spies here. now, the u.s. released those three cuban intelligence agents, part of the so-called cuban five. cuba is releasing a u.s. intelligence asset who has been in cuba in jail for more than 20 years. administration officials tell me with gross' release, president obama set to announce later today the most sweeping overhaul in u.s. policy towards cuba since the embargo was imposed in 1961. >> reporter: a historic hand shake between president obama
andhra wul castro at nelson mandela's funeral. an early change of the sweeping change in u.s. policy towards the communist island. today government contractor alan gross finally coming home. just two weeks after this desperate plea from his wife on the ailing gross' fifth year in prison. >> please, mr. president, don't leave alan to die in cuba. >> reporter: last week, president obama hinted a deal may be in the works in an interview with univision. >> we've been in conversations about how we can get alan gross home for quite some time. >> with the cuban government? >> we have been working through a whole variety of channels. >> reporter: gross was arrested in 2009 for trying to deliver cell phones and other communications equipment to the communist island. he was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in jail for trying to subvert the cuban government. two years ago, he told cnn's wolf blitzer he was a hostage not a convict. >> do you have any idea what the cuban goveren